Cast a Deadly Spell

“In Los Angles, 1948, magic is used for everything,” runs the movie’s tagline. How about, it’s H.P. Lovecraft meets Murder, My Sweet? This marriage of horror and noir works beautifully. You have a fantastic cast with Fred CastADeadlySpellWard playing detective Harry Lovecraft as a dogged, sometimes sharp, P.I., a bit down on his luck because he’s one of the few people with enough integrity to insist on getting by on his own abilities rather than hocus pocus. Julianne Moore plays the femme fatale from his past, à la Rita Hayworth, for all her shrewd, sexy worth. Clancy Brown and David Warner do neat turns as the bad guys, the former recalling the vicious tough guy threat of a William Bendix or a Robert Ryan, while the latter evokes the effete villainies of Otto Kruger and Lionel Atwill – but nobody can match Claude Rains! The humor is clever, even as the suspense is tight. This made-for- TV film might be a hint to Promise Keepers that they don’t have the best plan for saving humanity from ultimate destruction. Costuming, cars, hair (women’s anyway), has the right 1940s feel. Unfortunately, this HBO film was only released on video and is darned near impossible to get.  I saw Spanish language versions up for sale at $90.00 or so on ebay!

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Photo ©1991 Home Box Office, Inc.

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